Contract Project Manager? What you need to know! – Part 3

Contract Project Manager? What you need to know! – Part 3

Ira Hendon

Ira Hendon

Part 1 of this article outlined three steps for success as a contract project manager. In part 2, I shared what a Chief Technology Officer told me about Contract Project Managers. In part 3 of this article I will share Working as a Contractor – Top Ten Do’s and Don’ts from a project manager (Ira Hendon) with a long history of success as a contract project manager and managing a group of consultants across North America while working for IBM.

Here are Ira’s top ten for Contract Project Manager’s

Do’s for a Contract Project Manager

  1. Protect your Intellectual Property (IP)
  2. Honor your commitments
  3. Set realistic expectations
  4. Give the client the “Straight Talk”
  5. Have fun in a professional way
  6. Do your homework and be prepared for every meeting
  7. Do regular self-assessments
    • –(If you had the day to do all over again, how could you improve your performance? Results?)
  8.  Read your agreements before you sign…
    •  If you have questions, talk to your attorney
  9.  Do bring treats to keep your team(s) energized
  10.  Do provide clear communications and make sure your team and stakeholders understand your key messages

Don’ts for a Contract Project Manager

  1. Don’t say stupid things
  2. Don’t hit on client personnel
  3. Don’t be late for meetings
  4. Don’t miss deliverable (or intermediate work product) deadlines assigned to you
  5. Don’t publicly whine or blame others
  6. Don’t walk on egg shells
    • –Don’t hold back the truth, or root cause to an issue
  7. Don’t rely only on the client’s notes – keep your own notebook
  8. Don’t be a Lone Ranger – you need your team for success
  9. Don’t try to take all of the credit
    • – Success generates lots of opportunities for the team recognition
  10. Don’t try to pass all of the blame to others – As a leader, how you prepare and support your team(s) will either create success, or failure

Some of these may seem obvious, but experience has taught me people often ignore, don’t know or callously violate the obvious.

Number 3 (Set realistic expectations) under Do’s is critical.  Your ability to set  realistic expectations that ultimately make the customer happy is a skill.  A common scenario encountered by contract project managers is that the customer will have unrealistic expectations and you must find a way to gently, graciously, gravitate them to reality.  You must be knowledgeable in human behavior and have the ability to communicate in a manner that causes them to accept the truth, and in most cases that is not hitting them with the cold hard truth head on.

Items 8, 9 and 10 under Don’ts are correlated and parallel what was discussed in part 2 and essentially emphasizes the point that even as a contract project manager you must create and build a strong team.  There is work here on establishing trust and teamwork that goes beyond your face value contract deliverables.

In the part 4 of this article I will share what a staffing company told me about hiring and working with contract project managers.

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Posted by Dr. James Brown in Career Management.


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